2: The Personal Goal of Areté
ah rhi tay in English) is an important concept in
Chivalry-Now. You will see it used as a greeting or salute
among our Companions, and as the motto on our official armorial
The word is Greek for 1) excellence; 2)
the highest virtue; and 3) the greatest good.
While grammatically it could apply to the excellent
accomplishment of anything, it refers to something very specific
for our purposes, the highest significant characteristic of human
Ancient Greek philosophers examined human nature
for traits that set it apart from other creatures. They sought to
discover what made us special in order to learn our purpose in the
universe, and better attain that goal. Two traits were seen as definitive:
the use of reason, and the development of virtue.
The combination of reason and virtue is what
makes us most excellently human. We are therefore expected to develop
a high degree of reason and virtue in our lives. When we accomplish
that, it is said that we achieve Areté, our highest virtue.
Philosophers concluded that the goal of human nature is to strive
for this excellence.
Areté lies at the heart of everything
that Chivalry-Now espouses. Reasonable, virtuous people live
reasonable and virtuous lives. Here we find the simple cure for
all our social and political ills, and for dispelling the inner
dissatisfaction that plagues so many of us in our personal lives.
People of Areté simply do not contribute to the cause of
so many problems. They work for the improvement of both themselves
and society instead. They achieve the kind of personhood that places
them consciously in the moment. They respect truth, think for themselves,
and never allow political ideologies to dictate their views. They
do not encourage vice. They are courteous to others because they
understand the value of personal relationships. They exhibit strong
self-control. And lastly, they enjoy life because they are in tune
with it. They enjoy having purpose and meaning, the deprivation
of which dampens life with low self-esteem and lack of direction.
We attain Areté by applying ourselves
to the self-discipline of acquiring virtue and expressing that virtue
through the application of reason. The excellence it implies is
achieved over time. Everyday life is seen as a quest for building
our own Areté, a learning experience through which truth
is found and accumulated, and our intelligence and compassion grow
accordingly. Areté leads to personal fulfillment.
our commitment is real, Chivalry-Now helps us achieve that
goal. First of all, it calls our attention to the concept of Areté,
a task which our culture should be doing as matter of course, but
does not. Next, it provides the 12 Trusts as a simple
moral guide that expresses our own innate values that need to be
reclaimed. It teaches us to live life as a quest in order for Areté
to develop as nature intended. It provides courteous fellowship
to help us on our individual paths. Its deeper concepts (Telos,
Areté, Aletheia, Nature's Law, etc.) provide profound
catalysts for thought, while fleshing out the meaning of our own
western ideals so that they make sense and pull us back on track.
or not you join us, you can still benefit by thinking about Areté,
and how it can apply to your life. When you do that, the process
of healing and growth begins, for yourself and for the society of
which you are part.